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‘Bikelash’ Carries Injury and Liability Risks

Last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about “bikelash.” Bicyclists in Philadelphia want a better cycling infrastructure. Motorists, already frustrated with having to share the city’s narrow, traffic-clogged roadways with cyclists, are pushing back.

Jockeying for space on city streets can lead to crashes, and when bikes and cars collide the result can be serious injury, even death, and large liabilities. The outcome of lawsuits usually hinges on negligence. Was motorist negligence responsible? Did negligence on the cyclist’s part contribute to the accident, or was the cyclist solely at fault?

To avoid such collisions and protect themselves, both motorists and bikers need to understand the rules of the road as they apply to cyclists.

Bicyclists have responsibilities like those of motorists in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Streets Department provides some rules of the road on its website, plus requirements for equipment, such as reflector specifications. More information can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation site. PennDOT has also published the Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual.

New Jersey is among only four states that don’t recognize bikes as vehicles, but cyclists there have the same rights and duties as motorists.

So, follow the rules of the road, whether you’re on four wheels or two; keep your cool; and be safe. And, if you get into an accident, act quickly to protect yourself:

  • Call 911, and get the badge number of the responding officer.
  • Get the operator’s name, birth date, and, for motorists, car insurance information.
  • Take down the license plate number of the car involved.
  • Gather the names and contact information of witnesses.
  • Take photos of the damage to the bike and car.